Welcome to FOOD & FELLOWSHIP: Old & New Recipes from the Green Acre Kitchen. Each week we will share three recipes, both old and new. When the day comes—and it will—that we can sit at a table and break bread together again, perhaps we will all have a few new dishes to share.
“Every choice a Bahá’í makes—as employee or employer, producer or consumer, borrower or lender, benefactor or beneficiary—leaves a trace, and the moral duty to lead a coherent life demands that one’s economic decisions be in accordance with lofty ideals, that the purity of one’s aims be matched by the purity of one’s actions to fulfil those aims.”— Universal House of Justice, 1 March 2017
Why and How to Reduce Food Waste
“Reducing food waste would cut greenhouse gas emissions, slow the destruction of nature through land conversion and pollution, enhance the availability of food and thus reduce hunger and save money at a time of global recession.” — Inger Andersen, Director UN Environment Program
Some startling statistics:
In the United States we collectively waste 40 billion tons of food annually which translates to almost 40% of the food supply. That’s 219 pounds of waste for every person living in this country. It constitutes 22% of our landfills all while 35 million (including 10 million children) of our fellow citizens suffer from food insecurity.
The biggest waster of food is the American home which accounts for almost half of all food waste, the rest being made up of restaurants, grocery stores, farms and manufacturers. Why is there so much waste in our homes and what can be done about it?
There are several reasons for the rampant waste. First we as a country are blessed with inexpensive (by world standards) and plentiful food. Food in such abundance is often taken for granted and disposed of casually. Second, many are confused about food labeling. We see labels reading “best before”, “sell by” and “best by”. These notices are the manufacturer’s own decision based on perceived freshness not on any potential danger from spoilage and are not required by any governmental agency. Most foods are fine after the prescribed date. The dated label that should be followed is the one stating “use by” on highly perishable foods such as raw meats.
What can be done at home?
Simple Tips to Reduce Food Waste
- Make a weekly menu, using the oldest food in your refrigerator first. FIRST IN FIRST OUT
- Make a shopping list.
- Stick to your shopping list. Be mindful to buy only what you need.
- Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
- Buy “ugly” or imperfect produce though a home delivery service that “rescues” produce from farms that previously would have ended up in landfill.
- Keep food safe by keeping your refrigerator at a temperature at 36-38° F. Keep delicate produce away from the back of the refrigerator to avoid freezing.
- Freeze leftovers and food that is going to expire. Most everything freezes.
- Freeze excess vegetables and fruit on a cooking tray. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container.
- Excess produce during the summer; consider freezing, canning, drying, jams & jellies and fermenting.
- Use the skins, stems and leaves of vegetables.
- Save vegetable scraps, herbs and peels in your freezer for homemade stocks, soups and vinegars.
- Donate extra food to local food banks.
- If you do have food waste, try to compost.
Homemade Vegetable Stock with Kitchen Scraps
For economic, environmental and moral reasons it is always good to minimize your kitchen waste. If you reduce scraps by using more of your vegetables, such as peels, you may still end up with ends and skins that can go into a stock. Since substantial amounts of vegetables are needed to make a good stock, the small amounts produced from daily preparation can be frozen and accumulated for future use either as the sole component in a stock or soup or to be used in addition to fresh ingredients.
Vegetables to use:
Vegetables to avoid:
Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage etc.)
To freeze, spread out the scraps on a pan and put into the freezer. After freezing the scraps add to a storage bag that you can add to until you’ve saved the desired amount. Freezing on a pan prevents the scrap from sticking together. You can also make bags of scraps for particular uses, such as scraps that include lemongrass and ginger for a Southeast Asian soup.
In a stockpot cover vegetables with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour, cool and strain through cheesecloth. Store in a refrigerator for 4 days or in a freezer for 6 months. Use as a base for soups, stews and sauces.